Emily, Dan and Nigel - Moray & Agnew Lawyers

Partner Emily Hayden, Senior Associate Dan Coloe and Pro Bono Partner Nigel Kemp

IMCL and Moray & Agnew Lawyers have developed a strong pro bono partnership spanning 9 years. IMCL spoke with the firm’s Pro Bono Partner Nigel Kemp, Partner Emily Hayden, and Senior Associate Dan Coloe about the value of the partnership.

The beginnings of a pro bono partnership

Emily Hayden made partner at Moray & Agnew in 2009, and was keen to explore what the firm did on a pro bono basis. Having done a survey within the organisation, and investigating what exactly constituted pro bono work, she then set out to develop a program in the firm.

"It also came out of myself being a younger partner at the time, and also the fact that our team was made up of young ambitious lawyers who had similar feeling to give back that I did.

"I lived in North Melbourne at the time, not very far from the North Melbourne Legal Service on Victoria Street, and so I met a lot of really nice lawyers. I called in one Friday and it was chaos – there were people lining up for pro bono advice, and there was my answer."

Ms Hayden met with people from the legal service, and prepared a submission to the partnership team at Moray & Agnew.

"I really felt like I just had to come back and help North Melbourne Legal Service as a consequence of that, and channel our growing firm’s resources into that."

Giving back to the community

Ms Hayden explains that part of the role of lawyers is to give back to the community.

"It's not a matter of just ticking boxes and pretending that it’s something we need to do – it’s actually something we want to do, to give back to the community from which we come."

Nigel Kemp emphasises that in order to achieve this aim a pro bono relationship with a partner like IMCL is essential.

"If we were to attempt to provide pro bono services on a singular basis, we would not have the impact or effect that we need – by partnering with IMCL, we are able to provide pro bono services in a consistent way, we’re able to focus on the type of services that we provide, and hopefully we can make a better impact."

A two-way partnership

Mr Coloe explains that there is a lot of interest and support from the firm’s lawyers to be involved in the partnership with IMCL, as it allows their lawyers to build up skills in different areas.

"Our aim is to get our people trained up as much as possible, so that it takes the pressure off of IMCL, so they can do more while we’re doing advisory work."

Mr Coloe himself started doing pro bono work when he first started at the firm, and appreciates the difference that his work makes.

"A lot of these people who you come face-to-face with have had no-one who is willing to sit down and hear their story – sometimes the story can be long-winded, but at least you hear them and can focus on what they want to deal with, and give them a plan going forward– it makes an enormous difference to them."

Mr Kemp agrees, adding that as well as assisting IMCL, the Moray & Agnew lawyers have a unique opportunity to see another side of law, as it is a predominantly insurance-based firm.

"Our lawyers don’t often see the face-to-face work where people are truly affected by legal disputes, so by sending our junior lawyers along to IMCL and the family court, we are actually giving them a taste of the real world, and how what we do can actually affect people."

Nine years on

Initially the firm's lawyers worked with IMCL for many years on a debt and infringement clinic. To meet the ever growing unmet legal need, in 2014 the firm started to employ a solicitor whom they provided to IMCL on a full-time secondment. Today, these resources enable firm Senior Lawyer Maie Gibney to deliver IMCL's crucial health justice partnership work.  

An increase in family violence cases recently saw Moray & Agnew shift their assistance from debt and infringements to family law matters. 

"We now send someone down to the Magistrates Court to assist with family violence applications for a full day every fortnight. We assist in doing appearance work and negotiations for unrepresented parties," explains Senior Associate Dan Coloe.

Ms Hayden remains immensely proud of the partnership.

"We want to see the good come from it and really contribute – it’s not just a commitment by our firm of sending lawyers. We work with the IMCL management to ensure that we are giving everything we possibly can. That’s how I see the relationship, I see it as multi-levelled – and I hope that it continues into the future and we continue to work together."